AMID its effort to have a ‘more active role’ to end the decades-long New People’s Army (NPA) threat in the country, the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership said a total of 165 armed NPA rebels were killed as a result of police-initiated counter-insurgency operations across the country in 2020.
Another 433 known NPA members were also arrested while 3,165 surrendered to the police last year, officials led by General Debold M. Sinas said as they announced the PNP contribution to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) last year.
The PNP leadership last year requested the Armed Forces and the NTF-ELCAC to allow it to play a more active role in the anti-insurgency campaign. Since it was created in 1991, the PNP only acts as a ‘support unit’ to the AFP in fighting armed NPA insurgents.
This also prompted the move to give the different police regional and provincial mobile forces more ‘move, shoot and communicate’ capabilities which they need in tracking down the guerrillas in the mountains while at the same time addressing squarely the CPP/NPA’s legal fronts in different sectors in many parts of the country.
The PNP is part of the NTF-ELCAC formed by President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order No. 70 in December 2018. The EO institutionalized a ‘whole-of-nation’ approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace nationwide
According to PNP Director for Operations, Major Gen. Alfred S. Corpus, the PNP accomplishments against ‘Communist Terrorist Groups’ (CTGs) in 2020 were much higher compared to the 2019 figures in which 15 NPA guerrillas died, 28 were arrested and 405 yielded as a result of PNP-initiated operations.
A total of 897 assorted firearms were also confiscated from killed, captured or surrendered NPA members last year compared to the 1,699 accounted for by the PNP in 2019, Corpus said.
In a press briefing, the two-star general said there was a big decline in NPA-initiated atrocities in 2020 due to waning mass support and the intensified campaign against them launched by the government thru the NTF-ELCAC.
“However, we expect that the CTGs will use extensive propaganda exploitation against the government’s campaign this year just like what they have done in the past years,” Corpus said.
Sinas has ordered the entire police force to fully support the major gains of the NTF-ELCAC and continue their offensive against the NPA in the countryside in coordination with the Armed Forces.
The top cop added that he has also ordered his men to be on the ready for all kinds of threats posed by the NPA on them amid pronouncements of self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines chairman Jose Ma. Sison that the NPA has deployed so-called ‘Sparrow Units’ to target security agents in Metro Manila.
“Siinusundan po namin ang mga pronouncements ni Joma and are looking at its effects. Can they be used against him. We’re monitoring but as of now, we won’t comment kung me threats. Ang order ko lang sa buong kapulisan ay mag-monitor, magmatyag at mag-ingat at baka nandyan na sa tabi at mga traydor ang mga ito. Pero pag sinabi ng Legal Service namin na puwdeng gamitin ang mga prononouncement niya laban sa amin, we will file criminal charges against Joma before the court,” Sinas said.
According to the PNP chief, the rebel leadership issued those threats after they were declared as a ‘terrorist group.’ “We’re intensifying our security preparations and I’m assuring the people that our police force are ready for all kinds of threat,” he said.
Sinas said they are also monitoring the NPA recruitment of young children in the country. He cited their partnership with the group called Hands Off Our Kids composed of parents whose children have gone astray or missing after being recruited by the NPA.
He said they are encouraging parents to file charges against the recruiters of their kids although he said it is not a crime yet in the country to join an organization identified with the rebel movement.
“What I’m saying is pag member ka ng, say a group like Anakpawis, it’s not a crime pero pag pumunta ka sa bundok at magdala ng armas at lumaban sa gobyerno, that’s a serious crime already,” Sinas said.